Dizzy Recap: Macchu Pisco Nusta Pisco Tasting

Sparkling sake and pisco cocktail with a grape garnish at Zengo.

From guest blogger Stephanie Moreno:

I was recently invited to a tasting highlighting piscos from the Peruvian company, Macchu Pisco at Richard Sandoval’s restaurant, Zengo in New York City.  The occasion was to showcase a special pisco called Nusta Pisco.  The special menu was entitled “Lima to Tokyo,” a menu combining Japanese and Peruvian cuisines which was both complex and focused at the same time. By the end of the evening, we had tasted three piscos neat and several cocktails made with ingredients such as sake, rum and Japanese whisky.

As my expertise is more on fermented and distilled products, I’ll turn my attention to the pisco.  As a distillate from fruit, grapes in this case, pisco is a brandy.  I am not going to get into the Chile vs. Peru debate regarding whose pisco reigns supreme, but for those of you who know me, you can probably guess my preference. What I find most impressive about Peruvian pisco is, on top of not being allowed to age in barrel, it must be distilled to proof.  This means no water can be added to bring it down.  What you distill is what you get.

Peruvian Pisco 101:  Ok, so it’s distilled from wine made from grapes.  What grapes are we talking about here? There are eight varietals which can be used:  Quebranta, Negra Criolla, Mollar, Italia, Muscat, Albilla, Torontel and Uvina.  There are also four different styles:  Acholado (literally meaning half breed, but we can remember this as a mixture), Aromatics (as the name suggests it’s a style intensely aromatic with a grapey profile), Puro (a single varietal most typically made using the Querbranta grape or another non-aromatic), Green Must aka Mosto Verde (the must or grape juice is not fully fermented).

Macchu Pisco’s namesake pisco is a Puro produced using the non-aromatic Quebranta grape. I find the nose to be very subtle with fresh green grape skin aromas along with a touch of an earthy minerality.  Their La Diablada Pisco is produced in an Acholado style from Quebranta, Muscat and Italia.  This is a mix of aromatic and non aromatic varietals and creates an intense grapey fragrance with a slightly slick mouth feel.  I also got a taste memory of red hot cinnamon candies upon exhalation, so the name, La Diablada, fits.

We tasted those two piscos neat to kick off our dinner.  Our dessert was their latest product called Nusta Pisco, which is produced in a Mosto Verde style. This can be produced from a variety of grapes, but they have chosen to only use the aromatic Italia grape.  In this style, the fermentation is stopped leaving sugars that have not been converted to alcohol.  Despite this, it is still bottled at 80 proof.  What I found in the glass was an orange and grape profile with a touch of green herbaceousness playing along.

Unfortunately, unless you are willing to rack up some air miles by taking a trip to the UK, you won’t be able to taste this rare product–for the foreseeable future, the Nusta Pisco is not being released in the US.  Only 100 bottles are produced each year, retailing for $100 each.

Macchu Pisco's rare Nusta Pisco.

Dizzy Recap: Kahlua Cinnamon Spice Launch

Photo by Kyle Dean Reinford.

When a major spirits company launches a new product, the event is usually a flashy affair featuring an exclusive Manhattan locale and maybe even DJs, models and B-list celebrities. To introduce Kahlua Cinnamon Spice Liqueur, a blend of rum, arabica coffee, cinnamon, and piloncillo (a traditional Mexican spice), I was invited on a press trip to the Hudson Valley for apple picking and an autumn-inspired dinner at the scenic Bedford Post Inn. Let me tell you, this was a brilliant way to get NYC writers’ attention–pull us out of the cold gray city and bus us an hour north where fresh air, foliage and seasonal scents awaited us. LUPEC NYC president and mixology maven Lynnette Marrero whipped up the cocktails for the evening (recipes below), highlighting the liqueur’s surprising versatility by using aquavit, Cognac and tequila as base ingredients.

Hayride!

Photo of Lynnette Marrero by Kyle Dean Reinford.

Durango Royale
3/4 oz. Kahlúa Cinnamon Spice
1 oz. aquavit
1/2 oz. lemon juice

Top with dry french fermented sparkling apple cider (Cidre Doux Eric bordelet). In a shaker, add all ingredients except sparkling cider.  Strain into a flute and top with dry fermented cider.

Zócalo Sidra (cider)
1 oz. Kahlúa Cinnamon Spice
3/4 oz. lemon juice
1 1/2 oz. Martell VS Cognac
2 barspoons apple butter
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Place all ingredients in a shaker. Shake and strain into a couple glass and garnish with cinnamon stick

Montanya Mermalada
1 oz. Kahlúa Cinnamon Spice
1 oz. Avión Tequila Blanco
1 oz. lemon juice
6-8 concord grapes

Muddle Grapes. Add rest of the ingredients. Shake and strain over fresh ice in a rocks glass.

Dizzy Recap: Blogger Brunch at Yotel

Since the summer weather doesn’t appear to be fading anytime soon, you still have time to soak up the rooftop brunch experience at Yotel New York, where The Dizzy Fizz hosted an end-of-summer Blogger Brunch last month. Each weekend, the indoor/outdoor Terrace restaurant on the ultra-modern hotel’s fourth floor offers a $35 all-you-can-eat-and-drink two-hour special–essentially, a boozy feast worthy of epic brunching. The Asian- inspired tapas menu by chef Richard Sandoval offers a refreshing take on brunch standards such as bacon fried rice with kimchi and fried egg, fruit and granola with yuzu yogurt and grilled salmon with achiote ponzu, spinach and bacon. Order as many small plates as you want during the two-hour time frame, but take note that if you arrive during peak brunch hours, you may have to order a bunch of dishes at once in order to get your fill in time.

While writers from outlets such as Socially Superlative, The Skinny Pig, Mouth of the Border, The Wandering Foodie and more sipped carafes full of peach and bourbon punch and passion plantation punch, other brunch cocktails include the lychee bellini, mango mimosa and bacon bloody mary.

Although the brouhaha of Times Square is just a few steps away, Yotel’s spacious rooftop has a zen-like quality with its white and purple foam furniture, bamboo trees and cabanas, while still offering Midtown skyline views. For those times when you find yourself in the no man’s land of Times Square West/Hell’s Kitchen, the scene at Yotel is a definite must-visit for any discerning drinker or diner. Brunch on!

Yotel is located at 570 10th Ave. at 42nd Street. 646-449-7790.

Dizzy Recap: Bols Barrel Aged Genever Preview

Bols Barrel Aged Genever, launching in September. Photos by Lush Life Productions.

From guest blogger Stephanie Moreno:

“Genever needs to be courted.”  —Gaz Regan

On a recent rainy, chilly August afternoon, an invitation to a dark, cozy lounge seemed a perfect idea. I was further enticed with the promise of a sneak peek of the new Bols Barrel Aged Genever to be released in September (and expected to retail for about $50).  Held at NoHo’s The Vault at Pfaff’s bar, invited guests were given an opportunity to meet and listen to Piet Van Leijenhorst, Bols’ Master Distiller.  Frank Cisneros, their Brand Ambassador, was on hand to shake and stir cocktails, and I couldn’t wait to learn (and taste) it all.

As we waited for the presentation to begin, we were given an “aperitif” so to speak:  a Genever Collins cocktail.  I loved the bright and sunny lemon drink as it was such a stark difference from the wet and rainy day.  The Genever’s weight added a nice richness with a touch of sweetness that balanced the acidity of the drink.

Subsequently, Van Leijenhorst began his discussion of the product he clearly is proud to make.  He discussed his desire for Americans to think not think of Genever as a gin, but rather more like a whiskey.  He then explained how their Genever is made, and so shall I:

Genever technically is a type of gin, but to all intents and purposes, it is best to think of Genever as its own category.  In fact, in 2007, it was given protected spirit status like Cognac. There are a few types of Genevers out there, but let’s just talk about two:  Oude (old) and Jonge (young). These are types that do not refer to the Genever’s time aging, but rather the amount of “malt wine” that is used in its production. Oude has to use at least 15% malt wine, Jonge is less than 15%. It is easy to remember in the sense of old vs. new school methods.  In Bols’ case, they use over 50%.  But, what is this malt wine?

According to Van Leijenhorst, it is a “critical thing” and “the overwhelming taste comes from the malt wine.”  It consists of rye, wheat and corn that is triple-distilled (once in column and twice in pot stills) and then allowed to marry for six to eight weeks. The juniper and other botanical distillates (which include hops, anise, cinnamon and ginger root, among others) are then added to the malt wine.  This is then aged for at least 18 months in new and used Limousin oak barrels.

As the education continued, we were given the Aged Barrel Genever neat in an Old Fashioned glass, sans ice. Upon nosing the spirit, I found subtle wood spices from the wood aging with the tasting profile leading to a lush and spicy sip.  Notes of juniper, vanilla, pine, mint and cinnamon were some of what I discovered.  Variations of the classic cocktails the Manhattan and the Mint Julep were served to highlight the idea that Genever can be a substitute for American whiskey. I do agree with this sentiment, but as lovely as the cocktails that Frank made for us were, my favorite “cocktail” was just slowly sipping the Genever neat, room temperature.  My hope is that whether you are a gin lover or a whiskey lover, you ease into a relationship with Genever. As Gaz Regan said, Genever “…deserves to be courted and loved for its very distinctive personality.”  Hear, hear, sir!

Bols Master Distiller Piet Van Liejenhorst.

Stephanie Moreno is a professional spirits taster and can be found on Twitter @brooklynwino.

Dizzy Recap: Tales of the Cocktail 2011 Part 3

From guest blogger Emily Cavalier:

I’m back with my final recap of Tales 2011. Thanks for spending time with me here on The Dizzy Fizz. I hope to spend more time with you, whether it be here, on one of my sites or over cocktails.

Saturday, Saaaaturday Saturday! Saturday! Oh yeah. Let’s just say we didn’t get a ton of sleep on Friday night. We were out all hours and I really would not have gotten out of bed for anyone but Melanie and Lizzie da Trindade Asher of Macchu Pisco and La Diablada Pisco.

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I went to their tasting Tasting Room for a traditional Peruvian breakfast and a pisco blending session, where we received vials of the different grape essences that make up the La Diablada blend. La Diablada is the higher-end sister to Macchu Pisco, and just 1,000 bottles are produced each year. Each vintage is a slightly different blend, and the pisco is one of the smoothest I’ve ever tasted (and I’ve tasted many). With a deconstructed La Diablada in front of me, I set out to create my own version of “the spicyness of the devil and the sweetness of the angel.”

Bartenders John Hogan of Level Restaurant (Annapolis), Kevin Martin of Eastern Standard (Boston), Brother Cleve of Think Tank (Cambridge, Mass.), Rachel Sergi of Jack Rose (DC) and Lizzy Asher (representing her favorite cocktail from Eleven Madison Park in NYC) all presented a cocktail made with one specific varietal, with wonderful results.

I had two favorites. La Diablada Pisco Punch Fizz (made by Hogan) was amazing with fresh pineapples, torrontes white wine that had been carbonated, Barkeep Lavender Bitters, lime, simple and egg white. The second was The Panamericano from Eleven Madison Park. It was like a white Negroni with equal parts La Diablada Pisco, Cocchi Americano and Dolin Blanc.

It was a blast playing with proportions of Quebranta, Italia, Torontel and Moscotel grape brandies until I got my perfect mix. This was also the most entertaining of the daytime events I attended at Tales, as the participating bartenders were all dressed to represent the personality (metrosexual, dandy, macho, coquettish or sophisticated) of the grape they were mixing with. Brother Cleve playing the part of Macho Man in an El Luchador mask made my day.

I made a quick stop at the Grey Goose relaxation suite at Le Foret for a quick massage and some fresh fruit. After that, it was off to what was probably my favorite event of this year’s Tales: Pig & Punch.

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The Pig & Punch fundraiser was hosted by San Francisco bartenders The Bon Vivants again at Washington Square Park. I missed out on the awesome Pig & Punch logo t-shirts last year, so I made a beeline over to the table this time around and bought two (since it was a fundraiser and all).

The otherwise free outdoor pig roast boasted the Young Fellaz Brass Band and the same delicious spit-roasted pigs from Cochon as last year, as well as panzanella, cucumber salad and slaw. I was blown away by the quality of this year’s barrels of delicious punch, which included variations made with Don Q Anejo, The King’s Ginger, 42 Below, Combier, and loads of fresh fruit. There were Death’s Door vodka lime slushies and a Don Q watermelon contraption. My favorite taste at the pig roast was a shot of Templeton Rye paired with a Templeton-cured, grilled sausage sandwich. But I can’t forget the delicious Tenneyson Absinthe brownie. YUM!

2011 Spirited Awards: The Dizzy Fizz’s (and my) home city of NYC cleaned up the Spirited Awards once again this year, which was held at the Mahalia Jackson Theater. We took home seven accolades. Here are the highlights:

2011 Cocktail Apprentices on stage.

2011 Cocktail Apprentices on stage.

Employees Only took home two honors for World’s Best Cocktail Bar and World’s Best Drinks Selection. Not bad. Kenta Goto (Pegu Club) and Sam Ross (Milk & Honey), tied for American Bartender of the Year award. Audrey Saunders (who we’ll claim due to Pegu Club, though she’s now bicoastal) won Best Bar Mentor. Dizzy Fizz friend David Wondrich walked away with Best New Cocktail/Bartending Book for Punch. Eleven Madison Park earned Best Restaurant Bar.

Congrats to Rickhouse in San Francisco for winning the category for Best High-Volume Cocktail Bar. I was there in June and can vouch for the fact that they’ve earned it. I think Clyde Common (Portland, OR), should have won for Best Hotel Bar, but what do I know? Maybe in future years, I’ll get to judge!

Scroll to the end to see the full list of 2011 Spirited Awards nominees with winners in bold.

The rest of Tales is a blur. I did head to the Plymouth Gin Bartender’s Breakfast. The downside to the party is that it was a madhouse to get in if you didn’t have a special medallion, to the point where they weren’t even letting in people working the party unless they could find someone to escort them in. The upside is that, once inside, I was treated to some of the best bar bites of the week as well as delectable cocktails like the “Coke Den Punch” created by The Florida Room, with mezcal, cucumber juice, apple cider and Plymouth Gin.

Audrey Saunders and Robert Hess wed at Plymouth Bartender's Breakfast

Audrey Saunders and Robert Hess wed at Plymouth Bartender's Breakfast

Had I paid more attention to the inscription on my commemorative Julep glass, perhaps I would have known what surprise was in store for us. But it was too dark, and I was too hazy to read the writing which says, “Congratulations Audrey & Robert.” Yes, if you haven’t yet heard, Audrey Saunders got married to her sweetheart and fellow cocktail giant Robert Hess (of DrinkBoy.Com). I saw it. It was lovely. And then we all danced.

I continued the tradition Selena, Carmen and I started last year, by ending the night with a dip in the pool at a secret location, as guests of Spirited Award Nominee Colin Asare-Appiah (nominated for Best American Brand Ambassador with U’luvka Vodka). The three of us hosted a little gathering of those still standing. Pizza was hand-delivered to me in the pool. People drank while they floated. I’d show you a picture, but it was a No Picture Party. Make sure you stay in touch with us if you want an invite next year.

With friends at the Milagro Closing Pool Party

With friends at the Milagro Closing Pool Party

Sunday started out with the closing party on the rooftop at Monteleone. I was afraid the rain would keep people from having fun in the pool, but with all the delicious Milagro cocktails flowing, I shouldn’t have fretted. There were all sorts of treats, but the Milagro sno-cones might have been my favorite tipple of the bash. I was on the sidelines staying dry, so I had a low-key come down.

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If you were anywhere on the perimeter of the pool, though, it didn’t matter if you had an iPhone or money or a camera in your pocket. You were getting pulled in. Even Milagro’s own brand ambassador Jamie Salas wasn’t safe.

Carmen Operetta, Arik Torren, Trevor Schneider, John Pomeroy and Enzo Lim in the Rematch madness.

After sobering up with an oyster po’ boy at Acme Oyster Bar and a nap, I headed over to Rematch, Beyatch!!! at Cure as if I needed more booze that night. I’m not sure what one would expect when getting some of the country’s top TOP bartenders together for a speed competition involving craft cocktails, but … it was a ish-show, and I’m tired again just THINKING about it, so read all about it and see some pictures here.

So that about does it for the tales of Tales. Missing from the story are specs for the best drinks of the week, more great photos and all the great southern meals shared with friends. For that and more, check out my photos on Flickr (booze here, food here) and stay tuned next week to Mouth of the Border. Until next Tales, if you can’t be good, be careful!

Emily Cavalier is the founder of Mouth of the Border, an online community for lovers of ethnic food and culture in New York City. She’s also the hostess, founder and resident cocktail geek at Midnight Brunch supper club. In addition to food and beverage writing, Emily consults on event and digital media strategy with food and media brands like Conde Nast, The Vendy Awards and Google.

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2011 Spirited Award Nominees (Winners in bold)

American Bartender of the Year
Eric Alperin, Los Angeles, California
Kenta Goto, New York City, New York (tie)
Misty Kalkofen, Boston, Massachusetts
Sam Ross, New York City, New York (tie)
Joaquin Simo, New York City, New York

Best American Brand Ambassador
Colin Asare-Appiah, U’luvka Vodka
Jacques Bezuidenhout, Partida Tequila
Jamie Gordon, Absolut Vodka
Jim Ryan, Hendrick’s Gin

Best American Cocktail Bar
Clover Club, New York City, New York
Drink, Boston, Massachusetts
Employees Only, New York City, New York
The Varnish, Los Angeles, California

Best Bar Mentor
Wayne Collins, London, England
Steve Olson, New York City, New York
Audrey Saunders, New York City, New York
Dushan Zaric, New York City, New York

Best High Volume Cocktail Bar
Eastern Standard, Boston, Massachusetts
Flatiron Lounge, New York City, New York
Florida Room, Miami, Florida
Rickhouse, San Francisco, California

Best Cocktail Writing – Non Book
BarLifeUK.com
Imbibe USA
Liquor.com
The Tasting Panel

Best Cocktail Writing – Author

Toby Cecchini, New York City, New York
Camper English, San Francisco, California
Darcy O’Neil, London, Ontario
Naren Young, New York City, New York

Best International Brand Ambassador
Ian Burrell
Claire Smith, Belvedere Vodka
Dan Warner, Beefeater Gin
Angus Winchester, Tanqueray Gin

Best New Cocktail/Bartending Book
Fix the Pumps by Darcy O’Neill
Left Coast Libations by Ted Munat & Michael Lazar
Punch by David Wondrich
Speakeasy by Dushan Zaric and Jay Kosmas

Best New Product
Banks Rum
Cocchi Americano
Smith & Cross Rum
Tequila Calle 23

Best Restaurant Bar
The Drawing Room, Chicago, Illinois
Eleven Madison Park, New York City, New York
Hawksmoor Seven Dials, London, England
Hix, London, England

International Bartender of the Year
Erik Lorincz, London, England
Dre Masso, London, England
Sam Ross, New York City, New York
Dushan Zaric, New York City, New York

World’s Best Cocktail Bar
69 Colebrooke Row, London, England
Dry Martini, Barcelona, Spain
Employees Only, New York City, New York
High Five, Tokyo, Japan

World’s Best Cocktail Menu
Artesian Bar at The Langham, London, England
Eau de Vie, Sydney, Australia
Mayahuel, New York City, New York
Sanctuaria, St. Louis, Missouri

World’s Best Drinks Selection
Artesian Bar at The Langham, London, England
Cure, New Orleans, Louisiana
Eau de Vie, Sydney, Australia
Employees Only, New York City, New York

World’s Best Hotel Bar
Artesian Bar at The Langham, London, England
Clive’s Classic Lounge at Chateau Victoria Hotel, Victoria, British Columbia
Clyde Common at The Ace Hotel, Portland, Oregon
The Savoy, London, England

World’s Best New Cocktail Bar
1534, New York City, New York
Dram, New York City, New York
Eau de Vie, Sydney, Australia
Painkiller, New York City, New York

Dizzy Recap: Tales of the Cocktail 2011, Part 2

Old Campari Ad

Vintage Campari Ad

From guest blogger Emily Cavalier:

Read Part One here. We’ll open up Part Two of “All the Tales Fun That’s Fit To Print” with my profession of undying love for the Negroni (even when frozen). The only seminar I squeezed into my Tales schedule was “The Negroni: an Iconic Cocktail.”

The panel was moderated by cocktail journo Paul Clarke. He was joined by USBG Past President Livio Lauro (currently with Southern Wine & Spirits Nevada), Kimpton Hotel Group’s Master Mixologist and Partida Tequila brand ambassador, Jacques Bezuidenhout, and surprise guest, Luca Picchi, Tuscan bartender and author of Sulle Tracce del Conte: La Vera Storia del Cocktail Negroni (On the Trail of the Count, The True Story of the Negroni Cocktail). Lauro is currently working with Picchi to translate and distribute the 2006 book in English.

We sampled several variations on the Negroni theme, including a classic Florentine Negroni as well as a Negroni Swizzle from PKNY‘s Giuseppe Gonzales. Clarke projected images of iconic Campari advertisements from past decades throughout the panel.

Lauro made 80-100 Negronis while translating the book and said he found London dry gins and Plymouth Gin work best in the Negroni. He loves Carpano Antica for what it is, but, in the context of this cocktail, it has a tendency to take over. He prefers traditional Italian vermouth like Martini & Rossi. Bezuidenhout chimed in about the cocktail’s third component, saying “Campari is not debatable.” (The panel was sponsored by Bombay Gin and Campari).

I kept the Negroni theme going by popping over to the Negroni with a Twist Party at the Royal Sonesta Hotel, where the “-est” theme continued with the making of the alleged “World’s Largest Negroni.” (Great pics on Metromix here.) The 30-gallon cocktail was mixed with equal parts Campari, gin and vermouth in a gargantuan ice block.

Master mixologist Francesco Lafranconi presided over the “swazzy” (swank + snazzy) gathering, where a dozen Italian mixologists conjured up their own magical renditions of the classic cocktail. The men’s giant moustaches made the day more entertaining.

Of the nine Negroni variations served up, my favorite version was the Garibaldino, created by none other than Lauro himself. It featured Campari (of course) along with apricot brandy, blood orange juice and Mionetto Prosecco.

Thursday evening was low-key. I swung by a pop-up cocktail hour hosted by Max Messier, formerly of No. 7 in Brooklyn and proprietor of the soon-to-open Whiskey Tango Foxtrot bar, also in Brooklyn. Messier offered cocktails built with infused booze, house vermouths and homemade syrups, which he carted to NOLA from Brooklyn in a giant cooler. Drinks featured Brooklyn Gin, Brugal Rum and Woodford Reserve Bourbon.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot stealth cocktail hour

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot stealth cocktail hour

Thursday night, I skipped the awesome Spirited Dinners in favor of catching up with the men of Brooklyn Gin and a few other friends over a late dinner at Cochon. Since my last visit to the restaurant, Cochon’s chef Stephen Stryjewski won the James Beard Award for Best Chef of the South and it’s completely deserved.

Out at the Zu Vodka Enchanted Forest with Russell Davis of Rickhouse and Dave Shenaut of Oregon's Bartenders Guild

Out at the Zu Vodka Enchanted Forest with Russell Davis of Rickhouse and Dave Shenaut of Oregon's Bartenders Guild

The night ended with a quick visit to the Bombay Sapphire party at the House of Blues and then an enchanted frolic through a magical forest on Bourbon Street. Yes, you heard me right. ZU Bison Grass Vodka teamed up with Adam Aleksander to turn the historic address into a fairy tale filled with Spanish moss and, of course, lots of cocktails.

Friday was another fun-filled day. I started out in a Tasting Room, sipping the one of finest spirits around, Pierre Ferrand‘s Cognac. They were sharing a preview of their 1840 Original Formula, which was just launched nationwide on Aug. 1. The classic Cognac cocktail, the Chanticleer, made for a delicious breakfast as I caught up with legend David Wondrich, who had a hand in creating the formula for the 1840.

Dave Wondrich and Pierre Ferrand President Alexandre Gabriel at the 1840 Formula Cognac Launch

Dave Wondrich and Pierre Ferrand President Alexandre Gabriel at the 1840 Formula Cognac Launch

With a smirk, Wondrich joked with me, “I just came in and took all the credit.” Wondrich worked with Cognac Ferrand President Alexandre Gabriel and cellarmaster Christian Guerin, tasting several three-star Cognacs including the 1840. He continued, “We wanted to create something that was a mixing Cognac and we tasted so many bottles. The 1840 was the one we all agreed on.”

After a boozy good morning, I headed off to eat a proper breakfast and imbibe a bit more at the Purity Vodka Bloody Mary Brunch at the Bombay Club. There, brand ambassador John Pomeroy showed us how to make our own pressure-infused cocktails from an extensive Bloody Mary bar with everything from shrimp to green beans to fresh peppercorns. The fried chicken and waffles were delicious, the tomato-infused vodka cocktail I made was indeed fresh and “pure” and the live jazz band on hand was a soothing start to the afternoon.

Wemyss Malts at the Domaine Select Classic & Vintage Suite

Wemyss Malts at the Domaine Select Classic & Vintage Suite

I stopped by for a quick visit with Ben Jones of Rhum J.M. over at the Domaine Select‘s Classic & Vintage suite at the Ritz-Carlton. There, I was overwhelmed by the sight of seemingly the entire Classic & Vintage portfolio set out for tastings. I settled on sipping a couple of the Wemyss malts, a sip of Averna and tasting the Excellia tequilas.

Chris Elford of Amor Y Amargo (NYC) and Clyde Davis, Jr. of Chairman's Reserve Rum at the WTF/Midnight Brunch cocktail pop-up hour

Chris Elford of Amor Y Amargo (NYC) and Clyde Davis, Jr. of Chairman's Reserve Rum at the WTF/Midnight Brunch cocktail pop-up hour

Late Friday afternoon, Messier and I got boozy again. My supper club, Midnight Brunch, teamed up with Whiskey Tango Foxtrot to host another stealth cocktail popup hour to get people primed and ready for the Bar Room Brawl.

Highlights from the 2011 Brawl: Once again, bars from around the country did battle at the 2011 Bar Room Brawl. This year, it was Boston’s Eastern Standard Kitchen & Drinks, L.A.’s Roger Room, Portland’s Teardrop Cocktail Lounge, Chicago’s Sable Kitchen & Bar and NYC’s Little Branch.

The team from Teardrop Lounge (Portland, OR) accepting People's Choice award at Bar Room Brawl

The team from Teardrop Lounge (Portland, OR) accepting People's Choice award at Bar Room Brawl

My personal favorite was Teardrop’s “Latin Quarter” cocktail with Hennessy and house made Amer Picon. The people’s choice award was a three-way tie between L.A., Portland and Chicago. Teardrop didn’t take the big cheese, but congrats to Eastern Standard for taking the night’s title, and to Boston for bringing home the Brawl bacon for the second year in a row.

As is our way, friends and I ended the night at Old Absinthe House again, blurry but determined to do it all over again on Saturday.

With friends at Old Absinthe House

With friends at Old Absinthe House

Stay tuned for my final Tales recap, with tasting notes from the La Diablada Pisco blending session, tidbits from Pig & Punch, The Spirited Awards and what you missed if you left on Sunday before the fun began …

Emily Cavalier is the founder of Mouth of the Border, an online community for lovers of ethnic food and culture in New York City. She’s also the hostess, founder and resident cocktail geek at Midnight Brunch supper club. In addition to food and beverage writing, Emily consults on event and digital media strategy with food and media brands like Conde Nast, The Vendy Awards and Google.

Dizzy Recap: Tales of the Cocktail 2011, Part 1

Zacapa Rum Hurricanes

Zacapa Rum Hurricanes on Tales' opening day

From guest blogger Emily Cavalier:

I’m back and only halfway (mentally) recovered from my second Tales of the Cocktail, which celebrated its ninth anniversary in New Orleans this year. The resounding opinion this year was that it was not quite as fun as last year’s Tales, and everyone agrees it’s because Selena was not there. We’re already training our livers for her return in 2012.

Between parties, seminars and tasting rooms, there are too many highlights for one post. Here’s Part One of All the Fun That’s Fit to Print (or that I can remember):

Grey Goose Inspire: I hopped over to Latrobe’s to kick things off at this event which featured four bespoke bars piled high with fresh produce, herbs, juices, garnishes and other beacons of summer abundance. Guests collaborated with bartenders on an array of ingredients, mixers, garnishes and product to create their own cocktails. Grey Goose Brand Ambassador Nick Mautone made me a delicious cocktail with the citrus notes I picked out, and there was also a juicy watermelon libation being passed. Great way to cool off before heading out into the steamy NOLA night.

Next up was the Fancypants Party hosted by Tobin Ellis and the Social Mixology crew out of Las Vegas.

Rocky Yeh mixing up some libations

Rocky Yeh mixing up some libations

Self-professed rum nut Rocky Yeh mixed up a mighty tasty “Ants in My Pants” with Dos Maderas 5+3 with rosemary and pineapple syrup. He was kind enough to dole out some straight pours when the night started getting interesting at the event’s secret venue in the French Marketplace. Also making an appearance were Trevor Schneider, fresh back to the U.S. from Australia and NYC’s Enzo Lim.

On Wednesday, Tales’ Official Day One, I enjoyed the Opening Toast at Hotel Monteleone where, with over 400 folks, I knocked back a “Kopstootje” (a shot of Bols Genever paired with a beer) to set the world record for the World’s Largest Kopstootje. I got a warm welcome by Brand Ambassador Tal Nadari and managed to down the shot of Bols without getting it all over myself. Great success.

Emily Cavalier & Bols Genever Brand Ambassador Tal Nadari

Emily Cavalier & Bols Genever Brand Ambassador Tal Nadari

From there, I checked out the Tales bookstore with a couple of friends. People in all facets of the industry have been busy behind the pen as well as the stick this past year, so I picked up the fairly new title DIY Cocktails, edited by our friends over at DrinkOfTheWeek.com.

Another highlight of Day One was the Cocktail Fresh Market, which showed off cocktails made with ingredients from a local farmers market and 18 new and traditional spirits. I spied Russell Davis of San Francisco’s Rickhouse mixing things up with classic Luxardo maraschino liqueur and The King’s Ginger, an intense ginger liqueur and relative newcomer to the U.S. market.

After that it was rum and more rum, as I hit the Zacapa Rum Garden Party at the St. Louis Hotel and the Brugal Rum Poolside Party on the rooftop at Monteleone. Zacapa’s shindig was a classy affair studded with colorful frozen cocktails and a buffet of what looked like delicious apps (got there too late to partake myself). Brugal’s party featured a secret room with a private tasting nook to sample Brugal’s newest release, Brugal 1888.

Brugal by the pool.

Brugal by the pool.

After a lovely afternoon of day drinking with friends, it was time to don my best black and white frock and head over to the Beefeater Masquerade at Gallier Hall. There were the signature giant British flags and fairytale ballerinas rolling around in super-sized transparent bubbles.

Beefeater Ballerina.

Beefeater Ballerina.

I spied Audrey Saunders and Erick Castro behind the bars before getting sidetracked by the mushroom pasta and Beefeater 24 cocktails.

I took a car with our friend Carmen Operetta from the Beefeater soiree to the National World War II Museum for the William Grant party. Just like last year, there were Sailor Jerry Rum photo backdrops and a dizzying array of drinks showing off the myriad spirits of the William Grant portfolio. The historic setting leant glamour and romance to the otherwise almost overwhelming litany of options.

In the Sailor Jerry RV with friends at the William Grant Portfolio Party

In the Sailor Jerry RV with friends at the William Grant Portfolio Party.

I was happiest with a drink from Julie Reiner in my hands, though it was wonderful to see Gable Erenzo (Tuthilltown) and his lovely wife dressed up in ’40s character.

The highlight of the evening was probably the mashup of this year’s official Tales cocktail and the “-est” theme with the “Freshest Ramos Gin Fizz,” made by the Hendrick’s Gin team using freshly-laid eggs, cream churned from a cow that was right there, at the party and just-picked lemons (though we didn’t spy any lemon trees around).

Later that night, I found my way to ye Old Absinthe House, where I enjoyed shots of Green Chartreuse with a water back with friend Mayur Subbarao (Bittermens Spirits, Dram, Amor Y Amargo), declined more shots from Todd Richman (Sidney Frank) and said a quick hello to Arik Torren (Fidencio Mezcal).

And that’s just Tuesday night & Wednesday! Stay tuned for the next wrap-up post with a recap of the Negroni workshop, Pierre Ferrand‘s launch of their Cognac 1840, making our own pressure-infused cocktails at the Purity Vodka Bloody Mary Brunch and highlights from the 2011 Bar Room Brawl.

Emily Cavalier is the founder of Mouth of the Border, an online community for lovers of ethnic food and culture in New York City. She’s also the hostess, founder and resident cocktail geek at Midnight Brunch supper club. In addition to food and beverage writing, Emily consults on event and digital media strategy with food and media brands like Conde Nast, The Vendy Awards and Google.